With valuable ranking points and lucrative prize money up for grabs, Indian boxers Thokchom Nanao Singh (48kg) and Asian champion Suranjoy Singh (51kg) left today to represent Team Asia in the season-ending President’s Cup starting December 8 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The two are the only Indian representatives in the Asia I team after Olympic and World Championship bronze medallist Vijender Singh (75kg) and Dinesh Kumar (81kg) had to pull out due to their respective hand injuries.
President’s Cup is the only International Boxing Association (AIBA) event, apart from the World Cup, where medallists also get prize money. The gold medallist from every category would be awarded USD 3,000.
The winning team would take home USD 50,000.
Eight teams have been invited with each Confederation selecting boxers on the basis of rankings and the performance of the past one year - Americas (2), Asia (2), Europe (2), Africa (1) and Oceania (1).
“We have always been part of Team India but this time it will be Team Asia. It is something new and exciting to be part of a continental team,” said world number eight Nanao, a former world youth champion who won a silver medal in the Asian Championship this year.
“There is prize money but that is secondary because the first thing is to win the gold medal,” added the 19-year-old from Manipur, who became national champion on debut last month.
Statemate Suranjoy is equally upbeat about doing well in the second edition of the event, where select boxers from all over the world have been invited.
India had won a bronze medal in the tournament’s opening edition last year through Vijender, who is now the world number one in his category.
“Just the two of us are there and hopefully, both of us would be back with medals. It is a prestigious tournament,” Suranjoy, who is also a national champion, said.
The 22-year-old is currently ranked 17th in the world.
National coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu, invited as one of the three coaches for the two Asian teams, said both Suranjoy and Nanao are proven performers.
“Both of them are excellent boxers as they have proved time and again and I am sure, they will do well. But they need to have that little bit of luck also when it comes to the draw,” Mr. Sandhu said.
Team Asia 1: 48kg Nanao Sign Thokchom (IND); 51kg Singh Suranjoy (IND); 54kg Orzubek Shayimov (UZB); 57kg Hoorshid Todjibayev (UZB); 60kg Asylbek Talasbaev (KGZ); 64kg Masatsugu Kawachi (JPN); 69kg Asadullo Boimurodov (KGZ); 75kg Azamat Belgibayev (KAZ); 81kg Erdenebayar Sandagsuren (MGL); 91kg Ramzjon Ahmedov (UZB); 91kg Ruslan Myrsatayev (KAZ).